Go to any given spa or yoga studio and you’re likely to hear music or soundscapes designed to help you relax. Sometimes the sound is of a pan flute, or soft rain. Most often, though, you’ll hear some form of ambient music: gentle, often instrumental “chill out” productions meant to enhance the serene atmosphere.
Now, two longstanding electronic music industry executives, in partnership with leaders in the wellness and music audio technology spaces, are getting into the genre through a new ambient label: Sacred Society Music Group.
The label is a project of founders Bradley Roulier, who also co-founded the electronic music digital download store Beatport in 2004, and Barbie Beltran, a wellness expert and co-founder of a Denver wellness center also called Sacred Society. Co-founders include Paul Morris — the founder of electronic agency AM Only, which was acquired by Paradigm in 2017, and Tiësto’s longtime agent — Dolby Atmos specialist Adelio Lombardi and Jose Guerrero. Matthew Evertsen handles A&R and special projects.
With Sacred Society, the label’s founders are aiming to heighten the quality and effectiveness of ambient music by producing its entire catalog in Dolby Atmos — a move they believe can increase the well-being of listeners who use the genre for relaxation, sleep and various wellness practices.
“As label owners, we felt we could make this music that is part of life extraordinary,” Roulier tells Billboard.
Based in Denver, the label launched this week with a collection of more than 55 tracks and over six hours of immersive content. A track named “Ancient Chant” features hand drum, a rain stick and lapping water with various bells and a voice repeating, “You have it all inside.” A meditation track, “Inside The Womb Of The Earth,” is precisely 11 minutes and 11 seconds long.
This music, organized by more than two dozen tags to help users find ambient sounds best suited for certain activities and times of day, is currently available on Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon Music. (It’s not yet on Spotify or YouTube, as those platforms don’t currently support Dolby Atmos.) So far the label features music from nine contributing musicians including Dynasty Electric, Matthew James Kelly, Cobane Ivory, Sean Stolar and Roulier himself, with all artists appearing under the “Sacred Society” name.
While a barrage of ambient music already exists on the market (a search for “ambient” on Spotify results in upwards of 30 playlists), the Sacred Society founders believe their output is distinguished by its production in Dolby Atmos. The spatial audio technology adds dimension and depth to music and can only be made, and played, through specialized equipment. The label founders claim that listeners will benefit from this technology; as Roulier says, by helping them “explore meditative and ambient soundscapes more deeply than [they] ever thought possible.”
Sacred Society music is produced exclusively at Denver’s Dolby Atmos-equipped side3 studio, which was built by Lombardi. While construction of the studio required, as a Sacred Society rep says, “significant financial investment,” it was more intensive to set up the precise technical specifications necessary to record in Dolby Atmos.
But this investment was worth it, Lombardi tells Billboard, because “adding immersive audio to this [music] experience elevates it significantly.”
This may all sound like a niche endeavor, but there’s potential to tap a wide audience given how many people engage in wellness practices at home and how often this music is licensed for use in facilities like spas and yoga studios. Roulier says the group “wants our music to be widely available within the wellness space globally,” and has discussed launching a subscription service tailored for practitioners, hotels and spas that would allow them to use Sacred Society content commercially.
The demand for ambient music is also expected to grow; the label cites a report that says the genre was valued at $1.8 billion in 2022, with that number expected to rise to $3.21 billion by 2030. The demand for Dolby Atmos is also expanding, with the label citing a statistic that 90% of Apple Music users have engaged with the format, as well as that plays for music available in spatial audio have more than tripled in the past two years.
All this work is ultimately meant to deliver on the founders’ goal of sharing the holistic benefits embedded in the genre.
“I have always enjoyed ambient music, and I truly believe that music has the power to heal,” Morris tells Billboard. “With anxiety, depression, and mental health problems having escalated to unprecedented levels in our society, I can’t think of a more fitting time for the launch of Sacred Society Music. I have made a living from music my entire career and, by helping to put this music out into the world, I feel I am giving back in a small way through a medium that has given so much to me.”
“It’s about providing a unique and serene musical journey for our listeners, regardless of market trends,” Beltran adds. “We aim to offer a path to serenity, self-discovery and inner harmony through the transformative power of sound.”
The post “Is Ambient Music Made In Spatial Audio The Path To Wellness? This New Label Is Betting On It” by Katie Bain was published on 01/29/2024 by www.billboard.com